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Pork Ribs braised in Sauerkraut

Christmas Coconut Cake

I was recently asked for the recipe for my Coconut Cake.  I got excited because it gives me the opportunity to share with you a holiday spin on said cake.  It's Sunday and as regular readers know, we enjoy our Sunday dinner, so it was the perfect time to feature this recipe.  Besides, I never need an excuse to make a cake:)

Way back in December of 1998, I tore out a recipe for a Cranberry Coconut Layer Cake from Gourmet magazine.  I never made the exact recipe.  I just kept the page for inspiration (you don't want to see my stacks of notes/tear-outs/xerox copies from the library of recipes that inspire me).  A few years ago when I finally tweaked my Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce to my liking, it was time to pull out that page of inspiration and make the cake.

This cake is something special--a fluffy white coconut cake layered with a coconut cream cheese frosting and a thin jewel-like layer of cranberry sauce.  It looks like a giant snowball and it tastes like a tropical slice of holiday heaven.  ♪♫"How'd you like to spend Christmaaasss on Christmas Iiiislaaand..."♪♫

I use about 2/3 cup of my Whole Berry Cranberry sauce and purée it.  That way there is no slicing into big chunks of cranberry.  The cake layers can be made ahead of time and frozen.  Assemble and frost it the day before to allow the flavors to meld.  This make-ahead dessert is a bonus for me during the holidays.

If you are looking for something different to share with family and friends this Holiday season, give this cake a go.  If you are like me and are surrounded in snow,  one taste of this cake will melt all of that white stuff and transport you to a tropical holiday getaway--if only for a moment.

Printable Recipe

Christmas Coconut Cake
makes one (8-inch) 3 layer cake

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes, finely chopped
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup (2 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra large eggs, separated
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract
6 1/2-7 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, puréed
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray.

In a medium bowl sift together the flours, baking powder and salt.  Add the chopped coconut and mix until combined.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and butter at medium speed until creamy.  Add the sugar and egg yolks all at once and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed.

Combine the milk and coconut extract.  Add 3/4 cup dry ingredients and 1/2 cup milk mixture alternately to the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat on low speed after each addition to incorporate.   

In a clean medium sized bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand held mixer until stiff peaks form.  Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the coconut batter until no streaks remain.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.  Smooth the tops and make a small well in the center of the batter to prevent the cake from doming as it rises.

Bake the pans on the center rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes.  Remove the pans from the oven and cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  Invert the cakes onto a wire rack.  Remove the parchment paper and cool completely.  Wrap the layers in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour and up to 48 hours.

When ready to assemble the cake, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on high for 1 minute using a hand held mixer, until very creamy.  Reduce the speed to low and add the milk and coconut extract.  Add the powdered sugar 2 cups at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the final 1/2-1 cup of sugar and beat for 2 minutes on high. The frosting should be stiff, but spreadable.

To assemble the cake, place a cake layer on the cake stand with squares of parchment or wax paper underneath to guard the cake plate.  With a small offset spatula, spread 1/2 cup frosting1/4-inch from the edge of the cake layer.  Make a dam by spreading more frosting toward the edge to hold the cranberry filling.  Spread 1/3 cup of the cranberry filling inside the dam.  Place the second layer on top and repeat the process.  Place the top layer on and freeze for 1-2 hours.  Cover the remaining frosting with plastic wrap.

Remove the cake from the freezer and re-beat the frosting.  Use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer (crumb coat) over the entire cake.  Evenly spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake.  Use the 2 cups of coconut flakes to sprinkle on top and sides of the cake, gently pressing to adhere.  Carefully remove paper guards.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Note: At room temperature the cake has more crumb, so use a very sharp  knife to cut slices.  Either way, it tastes good!

Source: Cake and frosting adapted from Cuisine at Home issue No.20 May 2000; cranberry filling, The Galley Gourmet


  1. Wow! I love the look of this cake and the ingredients sounds delicious! Awesome!

  2. My Father-in-Law would love this cake!! He asks for a coconut cake each year.

  3. Dad and I just finished a delicious dinner - your beef chili and your beautiful coconut cake! Not only is the cake beautiful, but it tastes great. I love the cranberry filling. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  4. Thanks Mom:) The cranberry with the coconut is something special.

  5. D.A.D. in IL.December 21, 2010

    Well, the coconut cake tasted very good until I bit into the cranberry puree layer that had melded into the cake. That made it exceptional! It is surely the best coconut cake I have tasted.

  6. Nicole, the recipes sound fantastic and the pictures keep getting more and more beautiful! I am so impressed by your talents.

  7. This cake is picture perfect. A work of art.

  8. Beautiful blog! Look forward to your posts.


  9. Oh my gosh, it looks so yummy! :) Can't wait to eat it! :) Thank you very much for this blog post... :)


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